It’s been more than 25 years since the Internet went public, but we’re still debating the ground rules for the World Wide Web. In particular, the net neutrality debate continues to divide individuals, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and telecommunications providers alike.
Net neutrality, or the notion that Internet service providers (ISPs) and governments should treat all online data equally, has raised many important considerations on whether the Internet should have so-called “fast lanes” that prioritize content based on the ability to pay—and “slow lanes” for providers who can’t afford the special treatment. Net neutrality supporters believe that all online information should be treated equally, while opponents maintain that fast lanes and priority access will improve the speed and quality of the Internet.
Net neutrality isn’t just about fairness. Should the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) allow ISPs to block traffic or offer preferential treatment, this regulation would equate to a business black hole for entrepreneurs and small- to medium-sized businesses. The Internet is a boon for individuals and businesses wanting to build their brand and grow their revenues online. The end of the open web would put smaller players at a severe disadvantage against larger competitors, without millions of dollars to pay ISPs for “fast lane” access.
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